Medical Inventions That Were Created For The Strangest Reasons

Radioactive Water Creator(s): William J.A. Bailey (Radithor) Just like with electricity, the discovery of radiation and the things it could do led to many new inventions.… Joe Burgett - July 14, 2023
Radioactive Water - Radithor
[Image via Pinterest]

Radioactive Water

  • Creator(s): William J.A. Bailey (Radithor)

Just like with electricity, the discovery of radiation and the things it could do led to many new inventions. Sadly, just like with electricity, people did not realize the dangers of radiation for a long time. In the early 20th Century, several radioactive water tonics were being sold. They were marketed to the public as a way to cure several potential ailments. One was referred to as “Liquid Sunshine,” and another was known as “Radithor.” Marketed as a health tonic, it consisted of a solution of radium that had been dissolved in water. Most of the radioactive water concepts were pushed as health tonics, which were all the rage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, unlike others, stuff like this could cause cancer. At times, there were even cases of jaws disintegrating and developing tumors.

Original Vibrator
[Image via Women’s Health Interactive]

The Vibrator

  • Creator(s): Joseph Mortimer Granville

Self-pleasure is a healthy thing for both men and women. However, the idea around female self-pleasure was that it was a terrible thing to do for many years. Yet one invention would start to shift this concept. While many medical inventions around “pleasure” were made to avoid it, the vibrator was invented to do the opposite. On the “technical” side, it was made to treat a completely made-up condition known as “female hysteria.” Joseph Mortimer Granville is responsible for inventing the first vibrator, but it was used to treat male muscle aches originally. He then saw success using it for arthritic issues, constipation, and much more.

Vibrators would go on to be used by physicians to treat all sorts of pain-related issues. Yet Granville was also the first physician to treat female hysteria with it. While the female hysteria term dates back to ancient times, it would later swing back around as a mental disorder or condition. Women would show up to doctor’s offices and the obviously male doctor would use the vibrator to induce “The Big O.” The device allowed them to do this without touching the female patient, making it a terrific tool to do the job without any sexual connection. Due to the obvious love women had for the invention, it was later remade in several forms for people to buy for personal use.

Stethoscope In Use
[Image via Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.com]


  • Creator(s): René Laennec

French physician and inventor René Laennec created the very first stethoscope in the early 19th century. Due to now dating back to 1812, the invention has been critical to the world of medicine for over 200 years. Interestingly, Laennec actually invented the stethoscope for what some might find to be a strange reason. At the time, doctors used to listen to heartbeats in one of two ways. Either putting their head onto a patient’s chest or via a small device that could isolate the heartbeat enough to listen. Laennec did the former but felt uncomfortable placing his ear against the chest of female patients. Today, the stethoscope is one of the few medical inventions to last as long as it has and is still being used by doctors worldwide.

Psychic Surgery Being Performed In The Philippines
[Image via Microgen/Shutterstock.com]

Psychic Surgery Tools

  • Creator(s): Mala Cosa, Eleuterio Terte, Tony Agpaoa (earliest practitioners)

We’ve actually covered the world of psychics and other things connected to the occult on our sister website, Science Sensei. If you find psychics alone to be problematic, you’ll probably hate psychic surgery tools. These tools were developed in the mid-1900s for surgical procedures that claimed to be capable of removing tumors and other diseases through non-physical means. What’s so funny here is that these “surgeries” would be done with one’s bare hands, using sleight-of-hand tricks. Fake blood would be utilized as well as animal parts to convince someone that horrible things were removed from their body. The “tools” in this case were the hands and any incision they claimed to make magically healed…well, because there was never an incision, to begin with.


Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

United States Food And Drug Administration (FDA)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Public Radio (NPR)

Association Of Anaesthetists

Harvard University

Cornell University

San Diego State University


New York Times

The Atlantic

The Washington Post

Science Sensei